Thankful Farm

A fresh skiff of snow covers the ground, and chilly flakes blow against my face. The day can’t decide if it’s sunny or snowy, vacillating between the two in waves as I make my way through morning chores. But I am thankful for my warm chore gear, as I’ve fully bundled up for the occasion.

Visiting each of the group of animals, they are eager to meet the day, as they are every morning. The turkeys are thankful to escape the confines of their smaller coop to run about in their yard, the ducks are always thankful for fresh water as they splash and preen, the sheep are always grateful for food as they baaah incessantly in anticipation, pacing back and forth by the red gate.

This morning we bedded down all the winter pig houses with fresh straw, and the heritage Kunekune porkers grunted and snorted with glee, snuffling about in the fresh bedding and carrying small piles of it on their back like flaxen saddles. Small acts of kindness like fresh bedding can bring such glee to the animals.

Chickadees and blue jays are thankful that the seed feeder has returned outside Farmstead Creamery, and the deer are delighted that the garden fence has come down and they can scrounge for any last morsels that might be good to eat. The cold, food-scarce time of year has arrived, and the wildlife is grateful to have offerings of healthy sustenance.

Other wildlife is thankful for the small kindnesses of farming practices in harmony with nature—putting the log back when we found a yellow-spotted salamander was curled up underneath it, helping the sparrow find the open garage door when it was focused on the glass window in the back, tipping over the feed bucket that two mice had climbed into and were stuck. As the mice worked up the courage to crawl out of the bucket and scamper off into the shed, I admonished, “Now go and do good for the world!” Gratitude for second chances can help keep us from slipping into complacency.

And, as I continue with chores and the farm routines of the morning, I’m also considering what I am grateful for at this time.

I am thankful for the crates of potatoes, winter squash, and onions in the root cellar, despite the year’s drought and wildfires. I’m thankful for the families who have joined our winter memberships that will receive them and so many other good foods from our farm. Their belief in our mission and vision sustains us and is a critical part of keeping the animals happy and comfortable, the land and plants tended, and the wilderness around us nurtured.

Thankfulness need not be just for bounty—it can also be for balance, for enough-ness. It can be for the everyday small acts of kindness around us that ease suffering or offer hope. It can be for a simple meal prepared with love, new clothes, a warm fire, loving family. Thankfulness can spring forth at the sight of a clear blue sky, a glowing moon, a bird flying over, or any number of observed moments that bring joy.

This Thanksgiving, I hope that you too can bring to mind the small joys, the moments of peacefulness, and the harmony with nature that sustains. If you don’t have livestock to help remind you of this with every morning’s chores, pets can be a source for grounding in the fullness of the moment. And whether you do or don’t have pets, nature is always available as a teacher of thankfulness and renewal. Bundle up and spend some time this week connecting with nature and her late November rhythms.

I am also thankful for you as a reader of these stories. See you down on the farm sometime.